There is no doubt that Andrea Ranocchia is one of the Nazionale’s most divisive defenders at the moment. His supporters point to the fact that, when mistake free, Andrea’s performances on the pitch can be on par with those of Italy’s greats. However, so mistake prone is Andrea’s game that his detractors will fervently claim that they more than cancel out any positive impact throughout any given match.
Ranocchia first came into the spotlight after a strong season on loan from Genoa to Bari in 2009-2010. The tall defender made the high profile move to then treble holders Inter in January of 2011. He was touted as Italy’s next high profile world class defensive offering. At just 22 and in a squad that contained such glittering names as Lucio, Walter Samuel and Marco Materazzi, observers believed that Ranocchia would be given the room to develop and learn from some of the world’s best central defenders without carrying the burden of have to perform immediately.
Inter’s subsequent downward spiral and the famous Moratti coaching carrousel of 2011-2014 did nothing to help Ranocchia’s development. The once young prospect suddenly found himself in mid-career without having come close to fulfilling his potential. Ranocchia decided that in order to raise his bar, he needed to challenge himself more and so accepted Inter’s captaincy after Il Capitano Zanetti’s retirement, a move that ultimately spelled the demise of his tenure at Inter. Ranocchia is a soft spoken, well mannered and gentlemanly sort of player, and the burden of the first post-Zanetti captain’s armband eventually proved too heavy for him to bear.
At Sampdoria Ranocchia seems to be finding his feet again, he’s playing consistently and without the crushing pressure he felt at Inter. Andrea’s defensive style is identical to his physique; usually quite graceful but lanky and clumsy when out of position.
It is no secret that Antonio Conte is one of Ranocchia’s biggest fans, which is curious seeing that Ranocchia is very different to the quintessential Conte defender; fast and tough. Perhaps that’s why Conte is almost certainly going to give Ranocchia a call-up, because sandwiched in between Juventus pair Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea can offer the Azzurri a different option and the skill-set to shape the back three differently.
With Ranocchia in the side, Italy can sit back deeper when necessary and eliminate a large portion of any opposing side’s aerial threat. Perhaps not a starter in the Euros, Ranocchia will almost certainly be present with the squad in France.
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